With the extension of cuts to interest rates on Stafford student loans all but passed, President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party committees are now touting the President’s supposedly active interest in expanding the availability of Pell Grants.
Pell Grants are a form of needs-based government provided financial aid for low-income college students. Unlike student loans, federal Pell Grants do not have to be repaid.
As noted in the picture below from Obama’s facebook page, Democrats are claiming President Obama has doubled funding for Pell Grants.
The graphic deceptively fails to mention that not only did President Obama not double funding for Pell grants last year, he cut funding and would have made deeper cuts had Congress passed his 2011 budget.
Beginning July 1, thousands of college students will no longer be eligible for Pell Grants. The changes are a result of a a $1 trillion spending bill passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in December 2011 that funds the government through September 2012. The bill, which Obama signed, actually cut Pell Grants by $11 billion dollars over the next decade.
As Prospectus News reports, among the changes to begin on July 1 are the number of years students can receive the grant, reducing the max number from nine years to six. Additionally, grant recipients must now be high school graduates or have earned a General Education Development (GED) certification.
Last year, approximately 65,000 students applied for Pell Grants who did not have a high school diploma and another 63,000 recipients have been working on their degrees for more than six years, according to the Association of Community College Trustees.
Furthermore, the law lowers the maximum grant per year to $4,860 from $5,550 and the threshold for expected family contribution increased. After July the threshold will be decreased from $30,0000 to $23,000, meaning families making more than $23,000 annually will be expected to contribute some amount toward their children’s education.
In 2010 more than 8.4 million of those eligible for Pell Grants (approximately 76 percent of applicants) listed a family income of less than $30,000, according to the Department of Education.
But compared with the changes that would have taken place had Congress passed Obama’s February 2011 budget proposal, the changes resulting from the $11 billion dollars in cuts to Pell Grants are relatively modest. In that proposal the President, the self-proclaimed student advocate, suggested cutting $100 billion dollars from the Pell Grant program by further tightening the eligibility criteria for low income families.
When it comes to education, the president simply is not being consistent.
Students need to know about these changes in order to plan out their college educations with enough time to shop around for private loans. President Obama is purposefully leaving students in the dark in order to continue the persona that he is a friend to young Americans, who voted for him by a 2 -1 margin in 2008. In reality, Obama’s Pell Grant rhetoric is just another false claim created by the Obama 2012 campaign to woo young voters yet again. Hopefully they won’t be fooled this time.